May 2012

My practice today

This summer’s focus on home practice has motivated me to take a look at my personal yoga practice.   I have needed to examine this area for a while, and it looks like the time is now.

For many people, just finding the time to practice their yoga is a challenge.  With the exception of the weeks I’m rehearsing a play, I manage to carve out yoga time with no trouble.

But here’s what happens.

I distract myself.

I set up my mat, and do a dog pose.  Then I start thinking about what poses I want to do that day.  Then I go to the book shelf and take down 2 or 3 yoga books.  Before I know it I am immersed in pictures and illustrations – so many choices.

I look up at the clock, and an hour has passed.  Oops. Gotta fit in a quick headstand, shoulderstand and savasana.

Today I was determined to get on my mat and just do the poses.

So, I wrote out a sequence of poses on a sheet of paper, put that sheet next to my mat, and went for it.

No radio, no tv, no books, no nothing.

Just me and my yoga.

Here’s what I discovered.

  • Four minutes is a long time for adho mukha svastikasana with the left leg in front.  My left hip feels like a tangled knot.
  • I need to ask Lou if she will teach maha mudra.  In 16 years of yoga practice, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it taught in a class.
  • Viparita Karani is a nice cooling pose to start off with. 8 minutes of ease and quiet.
  • I need to keep the books away from my mat for a while – and trust my intuition about what and how to practice.

Here’s the sequence from today’s practice:

  • Viparita Karani – 8 minutes with legs on wall
  • Adho Mukha Svastikasana – 4 minutes each crossing
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana
  • Prasarita Padottanasana II
  • Utthita Trikonasana, Utthita Parsvakonasana, Virabhadrasana I
  • Parsvottanasana – 2x each side
  • Gomukhasana
  • Paryankasana – supported
  • Sirsasana  I – 3 minutes
  • Maha Mudra – 2 x each side with 3 breaths each side
  • Salamba Sarvangasana I
  • Halasana
  • Parsva Halasana
  • Supta Baddha Konasana
  • Savasana

I like the sequence, and found it to steady my nerves and clear my head.

For this coming week, I am thinking of seeing what happens if I do my practice before I sit down at my computer or read the paper.  We’ll see what happens.

Now off to the pool for Memorial Day celebration.

Aha! Moments from the Men’s Class

I love teaching the Monday night Men’s Class.

Each Monday I arrive to the studio at 6:30 to a group of guys sitting on their mats waiting for class to start.  Some of them engage in a pre-class stretch leg stretch.

On Monday nights the men work hard, relax deeply and we laugh a lot.

Especially when Tom requests corpse pose ten minutes into the class. Or when I ask them to take their arms behind their back in reverse namaste position.

I am amazed at their progress – especially with foot and leg flexibility, with lifting their chests and with a certain sarvangasana pose that challenges even more seasoned yogis.

They are learning a lot.

And so am I!

In one of the more relaxing poses last night, it struck me to let them know that what they are doing is profound stuff.

People who seem flexible or more advanced in their yoga are not making any more gains than they are.  Enlightenment does not come more easily to those who can touch their toes.

Here’s a great quote from Bryan Kest. He’s an ashtanga teacher, but he still has pretty good things to say : )

There is no enlightenment at the end of a pose.

Actually, there is no end to these poses. It seems to me in a general sense we as a society are enamored with the mystical, mysterious, the unseen & unknown.

We are looking for the hidden teaching, the secret scroll or fountain of youth, and of course heaven and hell. Yoga practice seems to be used to access some deeper dimension or some enlightened state.

Understand right now there is no connection between flexibility and enlightenment. Your physical capabilities have nothing to do with higher consciousness.

-Bryan Kest

Namaste to all of you!